Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the National Asthma Campaign

  The National Asthma Campaign is the independent UK charity dedicated to conquering asthma. If funds asthma research, offers help and advice and campaigns for a better deal for people with asthma and has a vision of a world without asthma.

  Asthma is about more than wheezing now and then. For many it means daily anxiety about how to avoid an asthma attack. For some it is a matter of life and death. There is currently no cure.

  Approximately 5.1 million people are currently being treated for asthma in the UK, which equates to one in eight children and one in twelve adults. We have estimated that this costs the NHS £854 million per annum. The UK has among the highest prevalence of severe wheeze amongst children in the world and it also accounts for almost half of all long-term conditions in children. In a recent report, the World Health Organisation warned that the upsurge of asthma in western Europe was causing greater economic and social damage than either TB or HIV.

  The National Asthma Campaign believes that the following points should be considered in the Draft Bill:

    —  As the key body in the UK that represents people with asthma, the National Asthma Campaign welcomes the development of the twenty Community Health Councils in Wales. It is however essential that the National Asthma Campaign alongside other patient focused organisations and charities dealing with long term medical conditions are fully represented on these councils in order to ensure that they are truly reflective of the needs of the public at large.

    —  The National Asthma Campaign envisages the Wales Centre for Health as bringing together much needed advice on a range of hazards.

    —  Approximately 134 people per week develop asthma at work and therefore advice about occupational asthma would be beneficial both to employers and employees.

    —  Similarly, advice and information on pollution would be valued by people with asthma. Whilst many people with asthma tell us that pollution triggers their asthma recent evidence has shown that there may well be a causal link between pollution and asthma which therefore makes it into a larger more treacherous hazard.

    —  Cigarette smoke is a highly common trigger of asthma attacks causing difficulties for up to 80 per cent of people with asthma. Other people's smoke prevents people with asthma from enjoying their lives to the full and the impact of cigarette smoke extends even further and can harm unborn children. It is therefore a hazard and there is an opportunity for advice and risk assessments of threats to death to be conducted which we hope will in turn lead to a ban on smoking in public places.

Donna Covey

Chief Executive

10 June 2002

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